The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 19, 2013

LARA changing name

The goal: Reflect more regional appeal

By Sara Blair Matthews
For The Daily Item

LEWISBURG — Lewisburg Area Recreation Authority will change its name to the Buffalo Valley Recreation Authority to alter the organization’s identity and demonstrate its appeal to a larger community.

Widening the organization’s reach is one of the main motivations for the name change.

“The new name says we serve a broader community and support resources of a broader area,” LARA board chairman Jim Mathias said. “We have great support from the East Buffalo Township and the Lewisburg borough, but we’d like to expand it.”

The Buffalo Valley Rail Trail is one of the authority’s biggest draws, and the organization wants to change the name to reflect its broad scope.

“People come from out of state to visit this trail, so we want to appeal to a broader area,” Executive director Katie Davis said. The trail spans nine miles from Lewisburg to Mifflinburg and covers two counties and five municipalities.

The organization is also in the process of altering its financial agreement.It has a formula to determine financial support based on a combination of real estate evaluation, population and earned income tax.

“It is roughly a two-thirds (East Buffalo Township), one-third (borough) split, maybe more, maybe less,” Mathias said.

The new agreement outlines a five-year plan that accounts for population and real estate changes. The township is set to contribute $90,000, while the borough will pay $50,000.

Lewisburg Borough Council was due to vote on the new agreement at its meeting last night, said Ward 3 Councilman Trey Casimir, who believes it will be approved.

“The borough’s contribution is land-locked. Its population and tax base are very stable,” he said. “The township has plenty of room to expand in regard to population and tax base, so they pay a higher percentage because of those factors.”

According to Davis, programming raises most of the organization’s funds. The $140,000 that comes from the township and the borough comprises a quarter of the authority’s overall budget. The rest comes from admission to the pool and other public facilities.

 “Our parks don’t generate enough money to cover their expenses,” Mathias said.

Tax dollars are also instrumental in maintaining spaces such as the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail.

“We’re giving the people of the Valley a return on their contribution far superior to the state average,” Mathias said.